The story of Donal Bisht is the ultimate inspiration for aspiring actresses. Quick-witted, lively, and full of exciting stories, our scheduled 20-minute interview with Donal turned into an insightful two-hour session. Presenting tidbits of this gripping conversation for our readers:
How was your childhood? Were you always interested in acting?
I hail from Chamoli, a small village in Uttarakhand. I was born and raised in the town of Albar, Rajasthan. My dad then had to shift to Delhi, so the other half of my childhood was spent there.
Now when I look back at my childhood, acting was an obvious choice. The creative side was always there in me; I was that kid who would paint all night, dance in front of the TV to the steps of Chaliya Chaliaya. I would get lost in my art. I remember during my board exams, I would lock the door, pretending to be studying and dance in front of the mirror instead. My brother once caught me in the act and promptly told my parents – I got a handful at the time.
My mother now says, “I am sorry beta; we never realized that your interests were in other areas.” It took some time for them to get convinced, but they are now quite happy with what I do.
When did you first start thinking about becoming an actress?
My college was in Noida Film City, so all the action of the entertainment industry was taking place around us. My parents had dreamed of me becoming a journalist, an anchor. I was on my way to fulfilling their dream. The thought of becoming an actress had never even crossed my mind up to that point. Other people saw an actor in me before I saw one in myself. Seniors in my college kept approaching me to act in their projects. The seed of acting grew from there, but doing it professionally was still not an option. After college, I took up a job in Journalism.
How was that experience?
I worked for reputed news channels such as News18 India, Star News, ABP Maza. My parents were thrilled. Their ultimate dream was for me to become an anchor at the news channel. It was a matter of pride for them. But somehow, my heart was not in it. Whenever I would punch in to enter the office at 9 and punch out at 5, I would look at my thumb and ask myself, “Is this really what you want to do for the rest of your life?”
Even though I wasn’t happy there, I decided that I won’t quit without fulfilling my parent’s dream. I kept practicing and working hard. One fine day, I was offered an opportunity to become an anchor at Chitrahaar, Doordarshan. After my first shot at Chitrahaar, I went up to my parents and told them,
“This is your dream; I made it happen. Now let me go and pursue my dreams.”
I believe this was the start of my life.
What was their reaction when you told them about your dream?
When I first brought up moving to Mumbai to try my hand at acting, my parents were very apprehensive. They kept saying,
‘We don’t know anyone there.’
‘How will you manage alone?’
So, instead of jumping to Mumbai right away, I started doing what I could from Delhi itself. I participated in the Miss Delhi Pageant. My parents came to see me on the ramp. They were pleased and surprised at how well I conducted myself. They started having more faith in me. I slowly convinced them that I had to try this.
How did you finally decide to move to Mumbai?
After I became Miss Delhi, I used to go for a shoot at a portal called Images Bazaar. I had posted pictures of my multiple shoots on Facebook; it was a piece of unsaid news at the time that I was pursuing a lot of things outside of work. One day, my boss realized this. Looking at the pictures of my music videos albums, photo shoots, and the Miss Delhi pageant, he was certain that my mind was not fully into journalism.
When he asked what I wanted to become in life, I couldn’t stop myself and blurted out, “Sir, muje heroine banna hain!” For which he said, “If you stay in the comfort of your house juggling multiple things at once, it will never happen. This is your chance. Go out there and do it!”
It was his encouragement that gave me the boost to pursue my Bollywood dream. I decided to go to Bombay. It became my only mission.
How did you actualize this dream of moving to Mumbai?
I first came to Mumbai only to give auditions. I had been working at Chitrahaar for eight months at that point. I would stay overtime for a week, do twice the work, and take an off for the next 4-5 days to go to Mumbai. From morning to night, I would obsessively give auditions, at least five a day.
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Ultimately, I realized I had to do some jugaad to move to Mumbai full time. I sent a fake mail to the HR saying my father is being transferred to Mumbai; hence I would need to be transferred as well. I kept waiting for a reply, unsure of the decision. Finally, on my birthday amidst the celebrations, my boss handed me an envelope. I opened it, and there is a transfer letter inside. I was so overwhelmed and said, “This might be a simple letter for you, but for me, it is a dream handed out in an envelope.”
This transfer gave me a legitimate excuse to head to the city without worrying my parents.
Taking all my big dreams along, I was finally headed to Mumbai.